THREE-DIMENSIONAL MICROSURGICAL AND TRACTOGRAPHIC ANATOMY OF THE WHITE MATTER OF THE HUMAN BRAIN

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

We sought to investigate the three-dimensional structure of the white matter of the brain by means of the fiber-dissection technique and diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance imaging to assess the usefulness of the combination of both techniques, compare their results, and review the potential functional role of fiber tracts.

METHODS

Fifteen formalin-fixed human hemispheres were dissected according to Klingler's fiber-dissection technique with the aid of 36 to 340 magnification. Three-dimensional anatomic images were created with the use of specific software. Two hundred patients with neurological symptoms and five healthy volunteers were studied with diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance imaging (3 T) and tractographic reconstruction.

RESULTS

The most important association, projection, and commissural fasciculi were identified anatomically and radiologically. Analysis of their localization, configuration, and trajectory was enhanced by the combination of both techniques. Three-dimensional anatomic reconstructions provided a better perception of the spatial relationships among the white matter tracts. Tractographic reconstructions allowed for inspection of the relationships between the tracts as well as between the tracts and the intracerebral lesions. The combination of topographical anatomic studies of human fiber tracts and neuroanatomic research in experimental animals, with data from the clinicoradiological analysis of human white matter lesions and intraoperative subcortical stimulation, aided in establishing the potential functional role of the tracts.

CONCLUSION

The fiber-dissection and diffusion-tensor magnetic resonance imaging techniques are reciprocally enriched not only in their application to the study of the complex intrinsic architecture of the brain, but also in their practical use for diagnosis and surgical planning.

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